Shabbat Shalom Shaarei Kodesh,
I want to begin by saying how proud I am of our congregation! We had around 25 people from our congregation ranging from teens and college students to seniors at the March for Israel Rally on Tuesday. We have another great weekend at Shaarei Kodesh as we welcome Rabbi Dov Lipman, a former member of Knesset, who will give an insider view of how Israelis are coping during the war, and what we can do to help. I want to share my initial reaction to the day which I shared on social media, and a link to a D'var Torah for this week where I expand upon the experience of the rally. Shabbat Shalom!
"I'm still processing everything I experienced at the rally in DC yesterday, but it was, I believe, a historic moment in Jewish-American history. We flew up in the morning and came back last night, so it truly was a whirlwind experience. I'm planning on writing and sharing more, but I wanted to talk about one experience we had that I think is indicative of how many Jewish-Americans feel since October 7, and if we are honest, how we felt before October 7 but perhaps did not want to admit out loud.
We came to the rally a little bit later (at 11 am), but we were able to get blue wristbands from our local federation, Jewish Federation of SPBC. It was a special gift for those who are a part of the organized Jewish community throughout the year. We were able to gain access to the front of the rally, but our friends/congregants were at the very front of the rally as they came earlier. We were able to find our way to them, but the crowd was almost crushing. We were stuffed between people, trying to navigate our way. And then, we got to the front, and miraculously, there was a big open space that no one seemingly knew about (stage left) as you can see from these two pictures. We were able to spread out, breathe, and have a sense of freedom from being pushed (or smushed) on all sides.
I think this is a great metaphor for how Jews in America feel - we feel pressured on all sides, we feel alone, and we are afraid to share how we feel about Israel and antisemitism out loud (this is what I have learned from listening to Jewish high school and college students). Being at the rally was a freeing moment for all of us. We could wear our kippot and Jewish garb like T-shirts and sweaters with Hebrew on them, we could bring our Israeli and American flags, we could bring our signs in Hebrew; we brought our Jewishness out to the open. And...we were embraced by each other, all 290,000 of us, regardless of our Jewish backgrounds. We were allowed to be ourselves and make our voices heard in the real world where I think it matters most (as opposed to online)."